Shopping For Shells
by Kaitlin Burek
This weekend was marked by crowds and bustling bodies as humans vie for gadgets to fill their homes and hermit crabs vie for homes to fill.
If you have ever made the acquaintance of a hermit crab in the ocean or the Touch Tank Hut, you will know that they are an incredible lobster-like animal with ten legs, two claws, and a whole wack of weird and wonderful associated facts. For example, hermit crabs can grow up to 16-inches, have algal and anemone friends, and can move between oceanic and land environments! As amazing as these facts are, hermit crabs have an even weirder trick up their shell…or should I say shells.
Even though hermit crabs require a shell to protect their soft abdomens, they are unable to create one. The hermit crab’s solution to this evolution irony is to inhabit shells created by snails and other animals. As the hermit crab grows, however, the too-tight-jeans feeling takes over and the hermit crabs need to find a bigger shell to call home. This is where the Black Friday analogy comes in because changing shells requires speed, knowing what you want, some *light* shoving, and a whole lot of determination as a bigger shell is the desire of many.
When it is time to change shells, hermit crabs can do one of three things – steal a shell, find a vacant shell, or trade shells in a mass event. Although the mass event is nothing short of madness, there is some etiquette to trading shells, specifically:
Even though mass events do lead to a lot of happy hermies (the internet taught me this term), some hermit crabs will undoubtably be left without a shell and will be forced to steal or find an empty shell.
Although we do not condone stealing as part of our shopping-shell swapping analogy, we do support the hermit crabs’ teachings of etiquette and identifying needs – a clawsome reminder as we exit a consumer-heavy weekend and enter holiday shopping season.
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